I’ve been writing genre fiction — that is, some kind of science fiction, fantasy, or one of its many mutations — so consistently and for so long that writing non-genre fiction (or as I’ve been calling it, “regular fiction”, no snarky meaning intended) feels a bit weird to me.
This is the issue I’ve been having with writing Meet the Lidwells over the last few months. It’s still a made-up world that I’m writing about, but I’m trying not to confuse ‘bad writing’ with ‘a style I’m not used to’. I don’t think MtL is a bad piece of work, even at this rough draft level. It’s just that my creative brain keeps complaining that there’s no epicness or high drama going on.
But this is not a Michael Bay action film. This isn’t the novel for that. It’s a simple story about a family of musicians. Their epic moments are about topping the charts, going on tour, and recording a new album. Their high drama is having to deal with family to such a close extent both in private and public life.
To be honest, this is exactly one of the many reasons I chose to write this novel. After finishing off the epic drama of the Bridgetown trilogy, I wanted — no, I needed to dial it back. I wanted to make sure I could still write a story with a much lower volume, so to speak. I needed to know I could write a story that resonated on a personal level rather than on a visceral one. And lastly, I needed to know I could write something short and concise, perhaps closer to 70k words rather than the 100k-plus of the trilogy books.
So far I think I’ve pulled it off. In fact, in the process I’ve figured out how I can write further non-genre novels, if I choose to. My reading habits have definitely helped me figure most of it out, as has the daily practice words. Will I write more non-genre in the future? I’m pretty sure I will, given the subject and inclination. It’s already affected my SFF writing style in positive ways, to be honest. It’s the kind of ongoing metamorphosis that I believe is not only healthy but vital.
Once I’m finished with MtL, I’ll be jumping into the Secret Next Project (aka the Apartment Complex story), so it’ll be back to genre…and now I’m curious to see how MtL‘s style affects that one. We shall see…!